Veering 180 degrees in a stunning political turn, millionaire private equity investor Bruce Rauner said Wednesday he misspoke and was “flippant” when he appeared to advocate a rollback last month in Illinois’ minimum wage.
In fact, Rauner now says he wants to see the minimum wage increase. […]
Rauner insisted he never meant to suggest lowering Illinois’ minimum wage by $1.
“I never said that. I said we should tie the minimum wage in Illinois to the national minimum wage. I didn’t use numbers. I didn’t use $7.25. I didn’t say any of that,” Rauner said. “I said I want Illinois competitive with other states.
Oh, please. Here’s what he said…
“I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage. I think we’ve got to be competitive here in Illinois. It’s critical we’re competitive. We’re hurting our economy by having the minimum wage above the national. We’ve got to move back to the national.”
He didn’t use a number, but it’s clear what he proposed doing - roll the minimum wage back by a buck an hour. Anybody with even half a brain can see that.
* And now he says he wants to increase the minimum wage. NBC5…
Rauner now says “I support moving Illinois to the national minimum wage” at the same time supporting “the national minimum wage moving up.”
How far up? Rauner says “I can support raising the Illinois minimum wage in the context of pro-business reform.” Rauner says “I’m comfortable at $10.”
In a Wednesday interview, Rauner initially sought to make the case that his Moline remarks had been taken “out of context” and that he was not in favor of cutting Illinois’ minimum wage even though he used the term “moving” it “back to the national” level. He acknowledged the remarks had created “quite a firestorm.”
“I was flippant, and I oversimplified an issue. I’m sorry. That was a mistake,” he said. Rauner said his support for tying Illinois to an increased federal minimum wage was coupled with the state adopting a comprehensive pro-business approach that included changing labor and environmental regulations, reducing taxes and improving education
He didn’t “oversimplify an issue.” He said what he said. But if he’s sorry and it was a mistake, then fine.
Rauner acknowledged the minimum wage topic “a sensitive issue” but accused Democrats of ginning up a “class warfare issue” by creating a state that was “hostile to business,” leading to continued high unemployment.
He was the one engaging in class warfare by proposing to cut the minimum wage by a buck an hour. That’s just the way it is, man. That class warfare stuff cuts both ways and Rauner has until now firmly planted himself on the side of the big boys.
* Rauner even quickly penned a Tribune op-ed that the paper obligingly rushed to print…
Tuesday, news outlets reported on a remark I made last month about lowering the minimum wage. One went so far as to characterize my remark as a “key policy proposal.” I strongly disagree. My statement was an oversimplification of a complex issue that deserves more detailed discussion.
Let’s acknowledge upfront that there’s no way you can raise a family and have a decent standard of living on the minimum wage. That’s true regardless of whether we raise the rate by $1.75. Makes you wonder whether the advocates of minimum wage hikes are really looking to help the working poor or whether they’re more interested in scoring political points.
For many young people, the minimum wage is a stepping stone to higher employment levels. When I was young, I had minimum wage jobs as a busboy, flipping burgers and parking cars. For many others, the minimum wage is a difficult ongoing reality of adult life.
To make a profound difference in living standards, we need a comprehensive economic development and education agenda. Incremental increases in the minimum wage won’t address the underlying skills and investment gaps in Illinois.
Yeah, he’s just a regular guy. A common man. Flipped burgers when he was a kid and parked cars. A true man of the people. Probably still wearing the same watch.
And that “comprehensive economic development and education agenda”? Not spelled out at all in the op-ed. Just pablum.
* I dunno, but perhaps Tillman didn’t get the memo about Rauner’s policy switch. From ABC7…
“Anyone who wants to see more people going back to work should support lowering the minimum wage,” John Tilman, Illinois Policy Institute, said.
* Also, Rauner still hasn’t explained this comment he made in Carbondale on Tuesday…
“We should only do that [reduce the minimum wage by a dollar an hour] in the context of dramatically improving our schools and creating a business environment where everybody’s got jobs so we don’t have such a brutally high unemployment rate.”
Still trying to figure that one out.
* And you gotta love this quote by Sen. Kirk Dillard…
Dillard called Rauner’s idea to lower the rate “political suicide.”
“Being as wealthy, a multi, multi- millionaire as he is, shows he is out of touch with regular Illinoisans,” Sen. Dillard said.
OK, well, then how “out of touch” is a candidate who wants the “marketplace” to set the minimum wage instead of the government? He’s getting a total pass on this issue so far from the media.
* Here’s some much-needed context from the Economic Policy Institute…
When describing who would see a raise if the minimum wage were increased, it is important to look at everyone who earns between the current minimum wage and the proposed new one, as well as workers earning just above the new minimum wage (who would likely also see a small pay increase as employers move to preserve internal wage ladders). The typical worker who would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015 looks nothing like the part-time, teen stereotype: She is in her early thirties, works full-time, and may have a family to support. Our analysis of workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage shows:
* The average age of affected workers is 35 years old;
* 88 percent of all affected workers are at least 20 years old;
* 35.5 percent are at least 40 years old;
* 56 percent are women;
* 28 percent have children;
* 55 percent work full-time (35 hours per week or more);
* 44 percent have at least some college experience.
Claims that mostly teenagers would see a raise if the minimum wage were increased are sometimes based erroneously upon the official Bureau of Labor Statistics data on workers who are earning the federal minimum wage or below—i.e. workers earning exactly $7.25 per hour or less. These data do not provide an accurate picture of who would see a raise if the minimum wage were increased because they exclude all workers from the 19 states with higher state minimum wages, along with all workers making slightly above the current federal minimum wage but below the proposed minimum, all of whom would see a raise if the minimum wage were increased.
* From the DGA…
Democratic Governors Association Communications Director Danny Kanner today issued the following statement regarding billionaire Bruce Rauner’s attempt to explain away his plan to cut the minimum wage in Illinois:
“They say a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. In the case of Bruce Rauner, he showed his true colors when he said that Illinois’ minimum wage needs to be cut. Only a right-wing billionaire would think it’s right to take thousands of dollars a year from working people who live on the brink of poverty. Forget his insincere apology today - the real Bruce Rauner would force thousands of Illinoisans into poverty if he had the chance, and voters won’t soon forget.”
Will voters forget?
…Adding… CTU President Karen Lewis analyzes…
In an interview with the Sun-Times, Lewis, who calculated that at $7.20-an-hour, Rauner made more money in one second than what he proposed minimum wage earners should make in one hour, accused Rauner of now changing his tune because of politics.
“It made him look really insane. So he had to pull this back,” Lewis told the Sun-Times on Wednesday. “It played badly, so his handlers told him to change that. I think people need to understand this is who he really is.”